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Boon or bane for development? Turkey’s central state bureaucracy and the management of public investment

Davide Luca

Environment and Planning C, 2017, vol. 35, issue 6, 939-957

Abstract: While Turkey’s use of public monies has been frequently marred by waste and short-term electoral rewarding, recent research suggests that the allocation of public investment across Turkish provinces between 2004 and 2012 was more responsive to socioeconomic needs than electoral politics. The current paper aims to understand this empirical puzzle by exploring whether the ‘relatively sound’ management of public investment can be explained by the characteristics of the central economic bureaucracy. It draws on process-tracing analysis and in-depth elite interviews. In line with the developmental state literature, the analysis argues that authoritative and insulated public administrations are essential for policy effectiveness, particularly in institutional contexts prone to a high politicisation of the public purse. Yet, in order to prevent bureaucratic capture, bureaus must also be accountable. The analysis in particular shows how increasing the transparency of the state and allowing a stronger oversight of policy performance by the public and the media are extremely important. Conversely, transformations which simply reduce the powers of strong, top-down bureaucracies to increase the indiscriminate control by governments – such as the ones which have occurred in Turkey in recent years – will not lead to stronger institutions, but merely produce different ineffective and unsustainable structures.

Keywords: Bureaucracies; state capacity; bureaucratic insulation; bureaucratic accountability; Turkey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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